Speaking to reporters at Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews earlier that day before taking off for Chicago, Biden commented that reporters “don’t read the polls.”
“Ten polls. Eight of them I’m beating him in those states. Eight of them. You guys only do two, CNN and New York Times,” Biden continued, before adding that he didn’t think he was really losing to former President Donald Trump and other potential GOP rivals in key battleground states.
The president’s remarks come after Democrats on Tuesday regained control of the Virginia House of Delegates and held onto the governorship in ruby-red Kentucky, despite Biden’s underwater approval ratings in both states. It also came after Republicans spent $30 million in Kentucky attempting to tie Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to Biden and make the gubernatorial election a referendum on the administration’s performance.
Recent polls from CNN and the New York Times suggest the president is trailing Trump and other Republican hopefuls nationally by four and five points respectively. The Times poll also found that Biden was trailing Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.
Biden aides have taken Tuesday’s elections as an opportunity to defend the administration’s record and emphasize the popularity of Biden’s policies in television appearances and in press gaggles.
Aboard Air Force One on Thursday, White House principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters “polls don’t matter; elections matter. You know, and now we’ve seen three resounding outcomes — in 2020, in 2022, and in 2023.”
“Voters have repeatedly embraced the president’s policies, which put middle-class Americans first and end generations of trickle-down economics that didn’t deliver for the American people,” Dalton said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre echoed much of the same on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday: “We have said, it’s not about the polls. It’s about the people.”
“The American people spoke loudly and pretty consistently about this,” she said. “They did in 2020 and 2022. They said this past Tuesday that the president’s values and agenda are incredibly popular across the country.”
The message fits into Biden-world’s bigger efforts to quell bed-wetting within the party, the media and its own ranks about the president’s reelection chances and reconcile the discrepancy between the polls and Democrats’ promising electoral results.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Biden’s campaign directed POLITICO to a memo they sent to media outlets earlier this week that highlights eight national polls from the last three weeks showing Biden ahead of Trump and independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., or tied with Trump. It also addressed the “‘hair-on-fire’, ‘sky-is-falling’ tone we’ve seen from media coverage over the last few days.”
“There’s no doubt this will be a very close election,” campaign communications director Michael Tyler wrote in the memo. “Joe Biden has been counted out time and time again and proved pollsters and pundits wrong. His campaign is ignoring the noise and building the strong campaign it needs to win — just like in 2020.”
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